United Way prepares to launch online service directory

United Way Greater Victoria is introducing a province-wide online service that will help connect Victoria residents with services.

United Way Greater Victoria is introducing a province-wide online service that will help connect Victoria residents with human services quickly and efficiently.

BC211 is an online service that will be available 24-7, allowing individuals and families to access basic services such as housing, food banks, shelters, clothing depots, services for children youth and families such as childcare, mental health and addiction services, assistance for people with disabilities, seniors and newcomers to Canada, as well as employment support.

The service also connects residents to real people, who can give support and options to build a road map on how to get help.

“211 offers people the ability to go to one place and be able to find and navigate a complex directory of services,” said Patricia Jelinski, CEO of United Way Greater Victoria.

“For example, if someone has a elder parent in another part of the province, they may need help with something, they could go onto the website of 211 and they could look up the kinds of services that they could advise their elder parent to connect with or they themselves could connect them with those services.”

The service was originally launched by United Way Lower Mainland with website, phone and text capabilities. Since then, it has expanded to include Squamish-Lillooet, the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Valley Regional districts.

Last year, bc2111 received 236,00 visits to the online resource directory, answered 56,000 phone calls, more than 350 text messages and made 66,000 referrals to community agencies for help.

The top reasons for calling bc211 were regarding housing, homelessness, substance use, and violence and domestic abuse.

United Way Greater Victoria is currently fundraising for the bc211 phone and text options and is working to build up an online directory for Vancouver Island as well.

For more information or to help, call 250-385-6708 or email the director of philanthropy Marg Rose at marg.rose@uwgv.ca.

The service is expected to be up and running in early 2017.